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Hail damage to take a toll on South Korean apple production

In Marketing Year (MY) 2017/18 (July-June), South Korea’s fresh apple production is expected to decrease by 2.8 percent to 560,000 metric tons (MT) from 576,369 MT in MY 2016/2017, mainly due to the effect of hail damage in the main apple production area in north Gyeongsang province during the fruit growing period in early June. 

Despite a slight increase (0.9 percent) in farming area in MY 2017/18 from the previous season, the yield (production per 0.1 Hectare) is expected to decrease slightly due to hail damage and a reduced number of fruits per tree expected this season. 

North Gyeonsang province, the main apple producing area, was largely affected by hail in early June. The Korean apple industry estimates that apple production in that area will decrease by about 11,000 MT in 2017. Industry also estimates about 10 percent of total farming area (3,000 Hectares) was damaged by the hail. 

Korea produces about 2.7 million metric tons (MT) of fresh fruit annually. Apples accounted for 21.6 percent of total fruit production (582,000 MT) in calendar year 2015.

MYs 2011/12 and 2012/13 were years of notably low production, due to typhoon damage leading to many fallen fruits during the fruit growing period. However, in MYs 2015/16 and 2016/17 production was strong, reaching numbers significantly over 500,000 MT, thanks to increased farming area and increased yield due to favourable weather. 

Among other apple varieties, Korea primarily produces the “Fuji” apple, a late maturing cultivar, which is grown on almost 70 percent of total apple production area. The “Fuji” cultivar, one of the most popular cultivars among Korean consumers, is mainly harvested in November, but due to its long storing period does not need to be distributed until July of the following year. 

The “Hongro” and “Tsugaru” are the second and third most produced cultivars in Korea, composing of 15.7 percent and 4.5 percent (respectively) of the total apple production area in MY 2016/17. 

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